Recommended Reading List – Fr. Michael Shanbour

RECOMMENDED READING LIST (Alphabetical According to Title)

Fr. Michael Shanbour

(Updated November 2017)


A Christian Ending: Handbook for Burial in the Ancient Christian Tradition J. Mark & Elizabeth J. Barna Divine Ascent Press, Manton, CA To my knowledge, the only guide in English relating the Orthodox Christian traditions surrounding death and burial, along with why and how they can be practiced today by individual Orthodox Christians and by parishes.
A Night in the Desert of the Holy Mountain Metropolitan Hierotheos Birth of the Theotokos Monastery An incredible conversation with (at the time) a living saint of Mount Athos (Elder Sophrony Sakharov) on the Jesus Prayer and spiritual life.
A Spiritual Psalter St. Ephraim the Syrian St. John of Kronstadt Press, Liberty, TN Beautiful, inspiring theological hymns and prayers written by St. Ephraim of Syria.
Acquiring the Mind of Christ: Embracing the Vision of the Orthodox Church Archimandrite Sergius (Bowyer) St. Tikhon’s Monastery Press An attempt, through short topical chapters to summarize the mind of Christ as seen through the lens of the Orthodox Christian Faith.  Many crucial points are made in the brief book.
An Extraordinary Peace: St. Seraphim Flame of Sarov Archimandrite Lazarus Moore New Sarov Press, Blanco, TX A wonderful, inspiring, insightful biography of St. Seraphim.  (There is one error however that suggests St. Seraphim began his ascetical labors on the rock due to a vainglorious thought).
Apostolic Fathers, The Ed. By Jack N. Sparks Light & Life Publishing, Minneapolis, MN Some of the most ancient post-Apostolic Christian documents in existence.  Includes The Didache, the Letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch, the Martyrdom of St. Polycarp.
Arena, The St. Ignatius Brianchaninov Printshop of St. Job of Pchaev, Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY For a serious reader looking for spiritual guidance on the life of prayer and ascetical life.  Like many books on Orthodox spirituality it should be read and applied in dilogue with your spiritual father.
Beginning to Pray Anthony Bloom Paulist Press, NY An introduction to prayer as a personal and intimate dialogue with God, challenging the reader to go inward.  Not a guide to how to approach one’s prayer rule.
Blessed Surgeon, The: The Life of Saint Luke Archbishop of Simferopol Archdeacon Vasiliy Marushchak Divine Ascent Press The struggle and ministry of Saint Luke (+1961) under the Soviet yoke.  An extraordinary medical surgeon, well ahead of his time, tortured by the Communist government, he became and bishop while still performing surgery, often for his own persecutors.
Contemporary Ascetics of Mount Athos, Vol. 1 Archimandrite Cherubim (Karambelas) St. Herman Press Spiritually edifying and educational lives of some of the most saintly contemporary elders of Mount Athos.
Contemporary Ascetics of Mount Athos, Vol. 2 Archimandrite Cherubim (Karambelas) St. Herman Press Spiritually edifying and educational lives of some of the most saintly contemporary elders of Mount Athos.
Counsels for Life: From the Life and Teachings of Father Epiphanios Theodoropoulos Trans. By Fr. Nicholas Palis Orthodoxos Kypseli Publications, Thessaloniki Practical spiritual teachings and advice on a plethora of topics from a saintly elder of our times.
Counsels on the Priesthood: Selected Passages from My Life in Christ St. John of Kronstadt, Ed. By W. Jardine Grisbrooke St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press Although excerpts from St. John regarding the priesthood, this little book offers great insights for lay people into the struggles and high calling of the priest.
Counsels on the Spiritual Life, Vol. 1&2: Mark the Monk St. Mark the Ascetic, Trans. By Tim Vivian & Augustine Casiday St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press St. Mark the Ascetic, an important fourth century desert father and theologian, had a great impact on the life of the Church.  His down-to-earth spiritual writings are also included in the Philokalia.
Deification as the Purpose of Man’s Life, The Archimandrite George Monastery of St. Gregorios, Mount Athos A brief, easy-to-read introduction explaining how and why the Church understands deification (or Theosis) as the very goal and purpose of our life in the Church.
Divine Liturgy, The: A Commentary in the Light of the Fathers Hieromonk Gregory Cell of St. John the Theologian, Koutloumousiou Monastery The best and most comprehensive explanation of every major aspect of the Divine Liturgy with extensive quotes from the Church Fathers.
Dorotheos of Gaza: Discourses & Sayings St. Dorotheos of Gaza, Trans. By Erick P. Wheeler Cistercian Publications, Kalamazoo, MI The writings of St. Dorotheos, a sixth century monk and abbot, are understandable and applicable to all Orthodox Christians and deal with the practical, basic principles of living the Christian life.
Elder Leonid of Optina Fr. Clement Sederholm St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood A most edifying biography with spiritual teachings from the holy Elder of Optina Monastery in Russia.
Elder Paisios of Mount Athos Hieromonk Isaac Holy Monastery “Saint Arsenios the Cappadocian,” Chalkidiki, Greece An inspiring biography of St. Arsenios of Cappaodocia written by a recently canonized Saint, Paisios, who was baptized by him and prophesied of his future spiritual stature.  St. Arsenios lived in Asia Minor during later years of the Turkish occupation.
Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain Priestmonk Christodoulos (Ageloglou) The Holy Monastery of Saint Arsenios the Cappadocian One of the first books available in English on the life and teachings of St. Paisios of the Mount Athos.  It contains edifying and charming stories of the venerable Elder who had a wonderful sense of humor.
Enlargement of the Heart, The: Be Ye Also Enlarged (2 Corinthians 6:13) in the Theology of Saint Silouan the Athonite and Elder Sophrony of Essex


Archimandrite Zacharias of Essex, England Thabor Publishing Beautiful reflections on the Christian life in light of the teachings of Saint Silouan the Athonite and Elder Sophrony of Athos and Essex.  From lectures delivered in Wichita, KS in 2001.
Entering The Church: The Catechism And Baptism Of Adults 


Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos of Nafpakos Birth of the Theotokos Monastery A great book for those entering the Church, but not only for them.  A simple presentation of what it means to enter the Church, with some important historical information, an explanation of repentance through the lens of the parable of the Prodigal Son, and guidance for after baptism.
Epistles: Elder Paisios of Mount Athos Holy Monastery of the Evangelist of John the Theologian Letters written by St. Porphyrios to those seeking his help and advice on topics touching on the Christian life.
Everyday Saints and Other Stories Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov), Trans. By Julian Henry Lowenfeld Pokrov Publications An unforgettable collection of real-life stories and reminiscences of the personalities of the Pskov Caves Monastery in Russian during Soviet times, from one who has gone from unbeliever, to monk, to abbot, and more recently, bishop.
Experiences During the Divine Liturgy Protopresbyter Stephanos K. Anagnostopoulos G. Gelbesis Publications Although clumsily translated, this book provides commentary on the Divine Liturgy with many illustrative true stories and miracles, in some cases related personally to the author by those affected.
Exploring the Inner Universe Archimandrite Roman Braga HDM Press, Inc. Spiritual direction from a recently-reposed saintly priest, persecuted under the Communists in Romania, who later became spiritual director of Holy Dormition Monastery, in Rives Junction, MI.
Father Arseny, Priest, Prisoner, Spiritual Father Trans. By Vera Bouteneff St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY Written by his spiritual children, a moving biography of the life of a contemporary saint living in prison camps under Stalin.
Feasts of the Lord Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlakos (of Nafpaktos) Birth of the Theotokos Monastery, Lavadia, Greece A helpful book providing the meaning and purpose behind the various Feasts of Christ celebrated in the Orthodox Church.
First Created Man, The: Seven Homilies by St. Symeon the New Theologian Trans. By Fr. Seraphim Rose St. Herman Press Selected spiritual writings from one of the greatest theologians in all of Church history, specifically relating to the condition and life of man before the fall.  How did God created the first-created man?
Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russian, New Martyr of the Communist Yoke Lubov Millar Nikodemus Orthodox Publication Society, Richfield Springs, New York An excellent biography of a contemporary Saint and Martyr, who was also a convert to Orthodoxy.  Reads like a novel.
Gurus, the Young Man, and Elder Paisios, The Dionysios Farasiotis St. Herman Press The true story of a young Greek man, caught up in an indecisive spiritual quest between “Eastern Religions” and Orthodoxy.  His encounters with Elder (Saint) Paisios of Athos are contrasted with the counterfeit spirituality he experienced in Hinduism.
Heart, The: An Orthodox Christian Spiritual Guide Archimandrite Spyridon Logothetis A wonderful, readable summary of the place of the “heart” in the Orthodox Christian life.
Hidden Man of the Heart, The (1 Peter 3:4): The Cultivation of the Heart in Orthodox Christian Anthropology Archimandrite Zacharias of Essex, England Thabor Publishing Lectures, with Q&A focusing on the heart in the spiritual life in light of the teachings of Saint Silouan the Athonite and Elder Sophrony of Athos and Essex. From lectures delivered in Wichita, KS in 2007.
How to Live a Holy Life Metropolitan Gregory (Postnikov) of St. Petersburg Printshop of St. Job of Pochaev, Holy Trinity Monastery, NY A supremely practical guide to daily Christian life from an Orthodox bishop of Russia.
I Know a Man in Christ Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos of Nafpakos Birth of Theotokos Monastery,Greece A wonderful, inspiring, and informative presentation of the teachings of Elder Sophrony with whom Met. Vlachos met from time to time for seventeen years.  This book makes the life of prayer and Elder Sophrony accessible to us.
Illness and Cure of the Soul, The: In the Orthodox Christian Tradition Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos of Nafpakos Birth of Theotokos Monastery,Greece


A record of discussions between Met. Vlachos and Orthodox lay people, this books presents the Church as the “spiritual hospital” with the purpose of curing the souls of sinners.  A much simpler presentation of teachings presented in “Orthodox Psychotherapy.”
Indication of the Way into the Kingdom of Heaven St. Innocent of Alaska New Sarov Press, Blanco, TX A simple, practical presentation of the Christian faith, written for the Aleut native Alaskans, from one of the first Saints canonized in America.  Includes one of the best summaries of what it means to bear one’s cross.
Letters to Spiritual Children: Abbot Nikon: Nikodemos Orthodox Nikodemos Orthodox Publication Society, Richfield Springs, NY Pearls of spiritual teachings and direction from a contemporary Russian saint (+1963), exiled by the Communists for his faith.
Life of the Virgin Mary, The Holy Apostles Convent, Buena Vista, CO Beautifully written and highly informative, this is the best and most comprehensive chronical of the Church’s tradition on the life the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos.
Lives of the Holy Apostles, The   Holy Apostles Convent, Buena Vista, CO Contains the lives and missionary journeys of the twelve Apostles.
Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Elders of Optina Trans. By Archimandrite George (Shaefer) Printshop of Pochaev, Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY A compilation of instructive and edifying quotations from the Saints of Optina Monastery in Russia.
Man of God: Saint John of Shanghai and San Franscisco Peter Prekrestov Nikodemos Orthodox Publication Society


The compelling and amazing life of Saint John Maximovich, with stories of his miracles and intercessions during after his earthly life.
Missionary Letters of Saint Nikolai Velimirovich, part 1 Ed. By Fr. Milorad Loncar, Trans. By Hierodeacon Serfim (Baltic New Gracanica Monastery, Grayslake, IL Letters in response to questions from spiritual seekers from one of the most intelligent, erudite, and enlightened figures of our times.  Born in Serbia, he concluded his earthly life at St. Tikhon’s Monastery in Pennsylvania.
Modern Orthodox Saints, St. Cosmas Aitolos Constantine Cavarnos Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Belmont, MA The life of the new marty, St. Cosmas, who sparked a spiritual revolution in Greece under the Turkish Muslim rule.
Modern Orthodox Saints: Saints Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene By Constantine


Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Belmont, MA An amazing true story of the revelation in the 1950’s of three holy martyrs of Greece from the 14th century.
Monastic Wisdom, The Letters of Elder Joseph the Hesychast Saint Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery, Florence, AZ Letters of the saintly Elder Joseph to his spiritual children.  A portrayal of extreme ascetical practice, but also an outpouring of healing grace for the serious reader and spiritual seeker.
Mother Gavrilia, The Ascetic of Love Eptalofos SA The moving biography of a contemporary saintly Orthodox woman (first lay person then nun; died 1992) who brought who simple, beautiful ministry of love to several continents including India.  Unfortunately, out of print.  If you can find it, get it!
Mountain of Silence: A Search for Orthodox Spirituality Kyriacos C. Markides


Penguin/Random House The author (at the time a nominal Orthodox Christian interested in various religious teachings), chronicles his conversations with a holy figure in Cypress, Greece.  While one has to put up with some ramblings of the author, the spiritual teaching from “Fr. Maximus” is practical, engaging and potentially life changing.
Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain: A Handbook of Spiritual Councsel Trans. By Peter A. Chamberas Paulist Press Various chapters on the spiritual life especially in regard to the Jesus Prayer and the practice of vigilance over one’s thoughts and senses.
On the Divine Images St. John of Damascus St. Vladimir’s Seminary St. John’s classic defense of the Church’s practice of iconography and veneration, using many scriptural examples and patristic teachings.
On the Incarnation: St. Athanasius On St. Athanasius St. Vladimir’s Seminary An exposition on the purpose and meaning of the Incarnation of the Son of God from St. Athanasius the Great, the defender of Christ’s divinity at the First Ecumenical Council.
On the Upbringing of Children Bishop Irenaius of Ekaterinburg and Sibirsk St. Xenia Skete, Wildwood, California Insights and instructions on the upbringing of children in accordance with the spiritual tradition of the Orthodox Christian Church
On Wealth and Poverty St. John Chrysostom St. Vladimir’s Seminary St. John Chrysostom’s practical reflections and teachings on how a Christian navigates the blessings and pitfalls of wealth and poverty.
Orthodox Psychotherapy: The Science of the Fathers Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos of Nafpakos Birth of the Theotokos Monastery This is not a book on psychiatry in the modern sense but in the original sense – “Soul Therapy.”  Met. Vlachos, perhaps the premier theologian of our day, explains the Church’s tradition of the healing of the soul, all supported by the teachings of the Holy Fathers.  May be a bit too lofty and dense for some.  If so, read “Illness & Cure of the Soul” instead.
Orthodox Spirituality, A Brief Introduction* Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlakos (of Nafpaktos) Birth of the Theotokos Monastery, Lavadia, Greece Perhaps the best book on Orthodox Spirituality today and the best all-around book of Met. Hierotheos Vlachos for most lay people.
Orthodox Veneration of Mary the Birthgiver of God, The St. John Maximovitch St. Herman Press A spiritual history and explanation of the Church’s veneration of the Theotokos from a contemporary Saint.
Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives: The Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica Trans. By Ana Smiljanic St. Herman Press, Platina, CA The life of Elder Thaddeus who became one of the most renowned spiritual guides in Serbia in the twentieth century.  He suffered greatly in his youth and through two world wars, even experiencing emotional breakdowns, yet transcended all by God’s grace and left us with most valuable teachings about the power of our thoughts in the spiritual struggle.
Papa-Dimitri Gagastathis, The Man of God Papa Dimitri’s Diary Orthodoxos Kypseli Publications, Thessalonki Very simple and beyond inspiring!  The diary of a modern saint (died 1960’s) in post-World War II Greece, dealing with the Nazi’s on one side and Communists on the other, without the moral support of his wife.  Non-stop action and adventure.
Paternal Counsels, Elder Philotheos Zervakos (Vol 1) Trans. By Fr. Nicholas Palis St. John of Kronstadt Press, Liberty, TN Simple spiritual advice from a contemporary holy father.
Path To Salvation, A Manual of Spiritual Transformation St. Theophan the Recluse St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood A “handbook” for those seeking to live the Orthodox Christian spiritual life.
Raising Them Right, A Saints Advice on Raising Children St. Theophan the Recluse Conciliar Press, Ben Lomend, CA Very practical advise on how to nurture a child to love God and the Church from infancy through teenage years.
Remember Thy First Love: The Three Stages of the Spiritual Life in the Theology of Elder Sophrony Archimandrite Zacharias Mount Thabor Publishing In this book Father Zacharias passes on wisdom acquired from his spiritual father, Elder Sophrony, and his spiritual father, St. Silouan on the progression of spiritual life.  Includes wonderful insights on scripture.
Return: Repentance and Confession, Return to God and His Church Arch. Nektarios Antonopoulos Aritas Publications A straight forward and brief presentation on what is sin and how to approach repentance, prepare for confession, how to confess, what is penance, and the relationship between confession and the Eucharist from the words and spirit of the Church Fathers.
Saint Silouan the Athonite Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov) Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Baptist, Essex, England A lengthy biography of one of the great Saints of modern times written by his close disciple, Elder Sophrony.  Losing his faith in childhood, as a young man he turned to drinking and carousing, until his conversion back to Christ which eventually took him to Mount Athos.
Saint Gregory Palamas as a Hagiorite Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlakos (of Nafpaktos) Birth of the Theotokos Monastery, Lavadia, Greece A marvelous entrance into the heart of this great and pivotal Saint of the Church written by someone who has experienced to a lesser degree the “hesychastic” life (the practice of the prayer of the heart).
Saint Nektarios: The Saint of our Century Sotos Chondropoulos Holy Cross Orthodox Press A wonderful biography of a beloved Saint of the twentieth century, who was slandered and persecuted by his own brother bishops.  Written in the form of a novel; a joy to read.
Saints Barsanuphius and John: Guidance Toward Spiritual Life Trans. By Fr. Seraphim Rose St. Herman Press Saints Barsanuphius and John “the Prophet” were great ascetic strugglers of sixth century Palestine.  This book contains brief practical answers to spiritual questions posed by monks living nearby.  Also included is a brief life of the two Saints and a translation of some of the homilies of St. Macarius the Great of Egypt.
Sayings of the Desert Fathers, The Alphabetical Collection, The Trans. By Benedicta Ward Cistercian Publications Essential, practical, simple sayings and stories from the 4th & 5th century holy monastic Fathers of the desert.
Science of Spiritual Medicine, The Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlakos (of Nafpaktos) Birth of the Theotokos Monastery, Lavadia, Greece Perhaps for the advanced Orthodox reader, this book clarifies some issues raised in “Orthodox Psychotherapy” and delves into the issue of inner disorders, illness and passions, healing of the soul, etc. according to Orthodox tradition.
Spiritual Life, and How to Be Attuned To It, The St. Theophan the Recluse St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood Correspondence with a young women who was just awakening to the importance of spiritual life.  How to live in the world but not be worldly.
Stories, Sermons, and Prayers of St. Nephon: An Ascetic Bishop St. Nephon Light & Life (Out of Print). See Amazon Extraordinary life of St. Nephon, an ascetic of the 4thcentury.  Interesting, edifying, and at times humorous.
St. Innocent, Apostle to America Paul D. Garrett St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY An excellent historical biography which takes one through the life of St. Innocent and his missionary work in Alaska.
Synaxarion of the Lenten Triodion and Penetcostarion Ed. By Fr. David Kidd & Mother Gabriella Ursache HDM Press, Rives Junction, MI A compilation of explanations of the special Sundays of Great Lent and the Pentecostarion (Sundays after Pascha).
Wounded by Love: The Life and Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios Edited by an archive of notes and recordings by the Sisters of Holy Convent of Chrysophigi Denise Harvey, Limni, Evia, Greece The beloved biography and teachings of the newly glorified Saint Porphyrios (+1991), taken from notes and recordings of his own reminiscences, conversations, and teachings portraying his intense and joyous love for Christ.
The Way of a Pilgrim and the Pilgrim Continues His Way Unknown New Sarov Press, Blanco, TX Introduces the reader to the Jesus Prayer through the diary of an anonymous Russian pilgrim who sought to learn the practice of unceasing prayer.
Way of the Ascetics, The Ancient Tradition of Discipline and Inner Growth Tito Colliander Harper & Row, San Francisco Simple, practical, ascetical advice for the layman living in the world.
Youth of the Apocalypse* (for teens and adults) Monks John Marler and Andrew Wermuth St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood An excellent, intensely spiritual book for teens or adults.  Explains why the emptiness of modern, narcissistic culture can only be filled by Christ and the Church.